Anxiety – (parents/carers)

Updated: 06/10/16

Anxiety is one of the common mental health problems. Nearly 300 thousand young people in Britain have an anxiety disorder. Lots of people, however, suffer in silence. It is important to recognise their problems and seek help especially when it starts affecting their everyday life.

Anxiety can cause both physical and emotional symptoms. This means it can affect how a person feels in their body and also health. Some of the symptoms are:

  • feeling fearful or panicky
  • feeling breathless, sweaty, or complaining of ‘butterflies’ or pains in the chest or stomach
  • feeling tense, fidgety, using the toilet often.

These symptoms may come and go. Young children can’t tell you that they are anxious. They become irritable, tearful and clingy, have difficulty sleeping, and can wake in the night or have bad dreams. Anxiety can even cause a child to develop a headache, a stomach-ache or to feel sick.

A lot can be done to stop children being anxious. Parents and teachers can help by remembering that children, like adults, may get anxious about sudden change.

  • It helps if you can prepare them in advance and explain what is going to happen and why.
  • Regular routines around bedtime and getting ready for school can help very young children with separation anxiety.
  • There may be books or games that can help children to understand upsetting things, such as serious illness, separation or bereavement.
  • Children over the age of five often find it helpful to talk about their worries to an understanding adult, which could be someone outside the immediate family.
  • They may need comfort, reassurance and practical help with how to cope.

If your child is showing signs of anxiety, it is important that you can show them that you care and want to understand the reason why:

  • Think about whether there is something going on in the family that could be causing worry.
  • Are they picking up on your own worry?
  • Is something happening at school or with friends?

All families have times when they have to deal with a lot of stress and worry. At times like these, you or your child might need extra help and support from friends, family members or others.

For further information, see

If your child is so anxious that they can’t cope with ordinary day-to-day life, more specialist help is needed. You can access help by seeing your GP, speaking to your school, the school nurse, or getting in touch with Point 1 (Tel 0800 9774077), who support children with early signs of mental health and emotional problems.

Worries and anxieties pdf File: 207 KB
The anxious child pdf File: 150 KB